Proud2Bme | 9 Ways to Combat Society’s Obsession with Bikini Bodies

  • Body Image
  • Body Positivity

9 Ways to Combat Society’s Obsession with Bikini Bodies

By Annie Stewart and Danielle Lowe--Oh, summertime. That glorious time of year when the days are longer, the sun is shining, fresh fruit is in glorious abundance, andddd swimsuit season is in full swing. Every season has its challenges for those battling negative body image, and this is indeed one of the challenges we all face in these warmer months. All throughout the year, we receive messages about our bodies—what they must look like, what they must consume and how many calories they must burn. It’s not easy to fight back against these messages that are all around us, but it is possible. So here are nine ways to fight back against bikini body pressure this summer:

1. Don’t allow society to tell you what body type you have to have in order to wear a certain type of swimsuit.

The only way to change society’s norm is by wearing whichever swimsuit you want with whichever type of body you have. But also, don’t pressure yourself into buying an extremely revealing swimsuit that is popular now, if that’s not what you truly want. There are tons of bathing suit designs and color schemes for every type of swimsuit. -Danielle

2. Exercise at your own pace.

When exercising, it is important to ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?” Is it because you genuinely want to or is it out of guilt or shame or because you think you “should?” One of the best ways to combat the bikini body pressure is to not engage in activities just because you feel like you “should.” Living an empowered, body-positive life means engaging in activities that make your body feel good and that you find enjoyable—and that may vary from person to person. -Annie

3. Practice mindfulness.

Our bodies can crave different kinds of foods depending on what time of year it is—and that’s okay. Listen to your body, practice intuitive eating, and eat what feels good to you. I must add one last essential point to this, though: this is an issue that can vary from person to person and should be discussed with your treatment team, particularly a registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders/disordered eating. -Annie

4. Make a list of body affirmations.

When you feel the pressure to look “perfect” on the beach, write down a list of body image affirmations. It’s not about how your body looks —it’s about what your body can do. Some examples of body affirmations are, “My body was not designed to be defined by a measurement.” Or, “My body is already perfect because of what it can do for me.” Or, “My body will take me to beautiful places no matter how it looks.” -Danielle

5. Dress for yourself.

Let’s be real—we wear less clothing in the summertime. Legs, arms, shoulders, etc. are exposed, so it’s natural to feel a little self-conscious when the temperatures rise. And the beach, pool, etc. are where we wear the least amount of clothing. This is where ED can increase his attacks—telling you that you need to look good in your summer attire and there’s only one way to look good. It wasn’t until I was eighteen that I began to feel comfortable wearing shorts. Not only that, but the very thing that I used to be so ashamed of (my muscular legs) is what I am so proud of today. My legs and calves are muscular, reminding me of the game of soccer I fell in love with at five years old, and how my incredible legs have run up and down soccer fields, climbed mountains, and swam in oceans. I am proud of them because they are my in-the-flesh reminders of hard work, dedication and strength. Moral of the story: dress for YOU, not for any one else. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and never apologize for it. -Annie

6. Ditch Photoshop and Instagram filters.

Social media can be such a harmful thing for those struggling with body image issues and eating disorders, because it is so easy to compare yourself to others. Often, only the thin ideal is shown on social media, and even those pictures are often Photoshopped and altered to look more socially acceptable. Posting photos or statuses about showing off your natural, unfiltered body will inspire others to be proud of their bodies too. -Danielle

7. Have a bo-po buddy!  

It is so important to have a buddy or two whom you can confide in when you feel less than kind toward your body. Talk to this person about what you’re feeling, go out for a meal with them or go to the beach together. Throughout my recovery, I have learned that even having one person to confide in when struggling with eating disordered thoughts is enough. Simultaneously, I have learned to be cautious about whom I share my struggles with, so make sure you feel completely safe and validated with that person. -Annie

8. Appreciate nature’s beauty!

There are few things that make my spirit come alive quite like nature does—and this time of year is the best time to take advantage of it. Spend time in the great outdoors—hiking, exploring, enjoying a picnic at the park, or simply absorbing the beauty of our incredible world. When I am surrounded by either the grandeur of a mountain or the stillness of a lake, I am reminded of just how wonderful our world is, and how insignificant my struggles suddenly feel when surrounded by such beauty. When I am having a bad body image day, it helps me tremendously to spend some time outdoors. Give it a try and let me know what you think. -Annie

9. Boycott products (and people sometimes) that support the bikini body obsession.

Put down magazines and stop clicking on articles titled, “10 Ways to Have a –insert celebrity’s name- Body This Summer!” Most likely, they’ll be filled with disordered ways to lose muscle quickly, or they won’t even make you lose weight or tone your body at all. Sometimes, friends will also think they are “helping” you by encouraging you to engage in unhealthy habits. It is important to separate yourself from what other people are doing and to do what is most healthy and recovery-oriented for YOU. -Danielle

Cheers, friends, to a glorious summer, one I hope and pray will not be bogged down by negative body image. Focus on YOU and your recovery, focus on intuitive eating and exercise, surround yourself with those you love and take advantage of our beautiful Earth. Breathe out the negative and breathe in the positive. Remember, half the battle is your thoughts; change how you think and you will change your world. And also remember, we are all in this together. We may not know each other’s stories, but take comfort in the fact that we are standing with each other, supporting one another and fighting for a world in which our worth is not based on how we look in a swimsuit, but comes instead from the the intrinsic worth of our hearts and souls.

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